I was back in Wirral last week – or is it THE Wirral? I did ask while I was there, but there seemed to be a difference of opinion.
Anyway, I was there to talk about My Friend The Enemy, which has been longlisted for the Wirral Paperback of the Year. It was a good chance to meet other longlistees – fellow Chicken Sam Hepburn, Dave Cousins (who might have a future in stand-up), Siobhan Corham and Kate O’Hearn – but best of all was the chance to meet lots of lively young readers from a number of local schools who came to meet us.
The event was well organised by the fantastic staff of Wirral Libraries, and the students who came to listen to us managed a whole two hours with no one falling asleep!
Novelists aren’t saving the world. We’re not eradicating global warming or curing terrible diseases, but hopefully we add something to the world – a little bit of colour maybe, something for people to enjoy and to talk and think about. And you know what? It really means a lot when somebody tells us they’ve enjoyed something we’ve written, or been moved by it in some way. So the high point of my day in (The) Wirral wasn’t being long listed (though, that IS brilliant, and I feel honoured to be one of the few selected), it was when another Dan came to talk to me about how much he’d loved reading My Friend The Enemy. It was fantastic to see Dan so animated and excited when he was talking about the story and the parts of it he’d enjoyed the most.
But that’s not all. You see, Dan’s teacher told me she’d always had trouble getting him to read anything. Something in my story, though, had grabbed him and really captured his imagination. Dan is now excited about reading my next book My Brother’s Secret, and I’m hoping he enjoys that too, then goes on to read more and more.
So, no, books and stories don’t save the world . . . they just make it a better place.
Bebington High at Wirral Paperback of The Year
St Anselm’s at Wirral Paperback of The Year
Just a little teaser . . .
Three school visits in the space of less than a week doesn’t sound like much, but when that means nine one hour talks, (very) early mornings, long train journeys, and then digging down to find the energy to be interesting and engaging and . . . well, it’s harder than you’d think.
BUT . . . visiting schools is one of the great things about writing for younger readers. They’re so passionate about stories and get so excited about author visits and (this is the best bit) they get to miss lessons.
So, here’s a great big thank you to the staff and pupils at Wirral Grammar School for Boys, Dame Allan’s School and Westfield School. Oh, and I can confirm that the school meals were excellent and made a change from boring old sandwiches.
That’s not all I’ve been doing, though. Oh no. I’ve also just finished checking the page proofs for The Darkest Heart. Everything seems to be in order, which means the book is all ready for printing, and I’ve finally been able to reveal the cover art – which looks fantastic! I’m very pleased with the design, which capture the mood of the book so well. Orion has, as always, done a fantastic job and my editor has coordinated everything perfectly. We’re now all set for July publication – I’ll post up some more details in a few days, along with a sneaky insight into what the book is all about.
And there’s more . . .
I have delivered Big Game. With some trepidation I submitted it to Chicken House without having first received my agent’s seal of approval. There was something of a rush to get it to Chicken House, so it went as it was and . . . phew! They like what I’ve done to turn the screenplay into a novel! Of course there’ll be tweaks and things to change and having the film connection means that everything has to go through a few more stages than usual – we need the producer’s approval – but things are looking good so far. Oh, and there’s some fantastic cover art for the book but . . . well, you can’t see it. Not yet. Sorry. The producer has to approve that too!
All in good time. But you’ve read this far so here’s a photo from the Big Game shoot. Bizarrely, the colours match rather well with The Darkest Heart cover art, but that’s only a coincidence. Anyway, here’s one of the crew having a rest on the set of the Presidential Suite inside Air Force One . . .
Busy times . . .
Page proofs for THE DARKEST HEART have just arrived, which is always a nervy time – the last chance to make minor changes before it goes off to be typeset and, well, made ready to be put into its cover – which is looking great, by the way. My brilliant editor at Orion is expertly overseeing everything in preparation for publication. I’d love to share the cover with you but it’s not quite ready so . . . oh, maybe a little tease . . . just a quick glimpse of a small part, eh?
Nope. Sorry. That’s all you can see for now.
Over in the world of younger readers, page proofs for MY BROTHER’S SECRET are now done and dusted, with just a few minor adjustments – which means everything is on course for publication. As usual, all the chickens over at Chicken House are doing a fantastic job of getting everything ready for that.
The manuscript for BIG GAME is looking good and . . . well, I say ‘looking good’ but that means I’ve come to a point where I’m happy with it, my children have read and enjoyed it, and it’s now gone to my agent. Of course, this doesn’t mean my agent will be happy with it. She will cast a (hyper)critical eye over it, and then we’ll see, eh? Best not to relax just yet. If I do that, I’ll only end up regretting it.
On the subject of BIG GAME, I’ve also seen preliminary art work for that cover and it’s looking fantastic. Very striking and exciting. I can’t wait to share all these things!! In the run up to World Book Day, I’ve got a number of school visits organised, so I might be able to share a few things with the audiences there, but everyone else will have to wait a little while longer.
Here’s something I can share, though – a brief video of me reading a little preview from MY BROTHER’S SECRET. I can’t help cringing when I see myself on film, but that’s no reflection on Gulliver Moore’s directing and camera expertise; he’s done a great job.